“THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP” (Movie Review)
It never ceases to irk me when filmmakers are adamant about their movies not falling into the category of ‘genre’ films; however, THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP (available on Digital and VOD now from Factory 25) can’t be labeled a horror movie per se. Instead, Rebecca Daly’s feature writing/directing debut is a slow burning mystery with elements of horror. Rather than brimming with cheap thrills to induce quick scares, it is wrought with a deliberate tension that builds throughout the course of the film.
THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP is a story of grief, conveyed through the perspective of Arlene (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), a young and socially inept factory laborer in a bleak and dismal working-class Irish town. The plot unfolds after she awakens lying alongside another woman who – while initially assumed to be asleep – is revealed to be very much lifeless. Arlene flees the scene, but not before noticing a looming figure watching her from the woods. As she attempts to reintegrate into the monotonous routines of her day-to-day life, we learn that Arlene has a sleepwalking disorder that causes her to often wake covered in dirt, scratches and bruises, never certain of their sources.
As the local community grapples with the young girl’s death and strives to blame and subsequently condemn someone for the homicide, Arlene begins bonding with the deceased girl’s family; she is able to empathize with their mourning due to the fact that, when she was a child, her mother was also murdered. She simultaneously begins descending into a sleepless delirium, wandering through her life in a daze. The film’s plot could easily be rendered into a more overt thriller; however, this is not how Daly chose to tell this story. Without a doubt, THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP requires some patience.
Information that would be deemed critical in other films is left out altogether here. The deliberate pacing has a propensity to grow slightly tiresome in the latter half of the film, but even in these somewhat idle portions, the movie is upheld by Suzie Lavelle’s dark and dreary but bewitching cinematography. An engaging plotline is sometimes lacking and the conclusion is rather underwhelming, but the film is also largely worth a gander for the performances; Campbell-Hughes is perfectly haunting in her role as Arlene, leaving an impression that lingers for days. Daly has seemingly brought the talents of her actors to their fullest abilities, and it is also evident that she is a talented filmmaker who possesses the ability to cultivate a unique aesthetic. It’s encouraging to witness the recent boom of cross-genre female directors, and furthermore, Daly is able to bring a distinctive vision to the screen, as the film bears insight into a segment of Irish life and culture that is largely unfamiliar to American audiences. THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP may not be a traditional horror film, but it is nonetheless worthy of a viewing.